icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Snapshots of Life in the City

I Practice Walking Defensively

One rainy day, I was walking down 7th Street and I suddenly noticed that I was in the middle of some kind of vortex of people. They were everywhere, and seemingly trying to block my every move. 
There were walkers, runners, bicyclers, and worse, people on motorized scooters. People emerged unexpectedly from restaurant doorways. Some were trying to enter doorways and were standing in the way of this human traffic. And there was one person on a skateboard wearing a Darth Vader mask, gliding quickly through the masses, looking hilariously foreboding while doing it.
When it was time to cross a street, of course we all jammed up and had to let traffic go but as soon as the light changed, people crossed from both directions and the madness ensued for the next block.
Where in the heck did all of these people come from? I wasn't aware of any big events.
Worse, I didn't know why I hadn't noticed this scene apparently looming ahead a few blocks earlier. But then suddenly there I was, a part of street madness.
I bobbed and weaved and tried to avoid crashing into anyone or any vehicle. Quickly, I went into autopilot mode.
Then a young woman somehow fell in step near me and said, "Hi, my name is Barbara."
Was I wearing a nametag or something – how could she have my name?
I glanced at her while deftly maintaining my autopilot mode.
"I'd like to tell you about a church I belong to," she said pleasantly, trying to hand me a small post card.
"I'm not religious at all," I said. I made an attempt at a kind smile. Failed, probably.
"Well Jesus loves you." She didn't seem upset at all.
"Right," I said. And then I picked up my speed the best I could.
Soon after that, I nearly tripped over a homeless person who was sitting on the ground, leaning against a building, but whose legs were too far out onto the sidewalk. But I didn't fall. I wound up sort of leaping - or dancing awkwardly - over his legs. I saw that move as almost poetic on my part!
It suddenly occurred to me how when I was 16 years old and learning to drive, the idea of "driving defensively" was preached. Actually, I bet it's engrained in most of us. It's kind of a cultural meme.
But no one ever talked about learning to walk defensively!
Clearly this is an omission that needs to be fixed.

Be the first to comment